Tiger Woods finishes with flourish at Genesis Invitational on long-awaited PGA Tour return

The 15-time major champion, making his first competitive appearance since last summer, signed for 2-under

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Tiger Woods said he was delighted to finish with three straight birdies on his return to competitive golf after he carded a 2-under-par 69 in the opening round of the Genesis Invitational.

Woods, 47, made his long-awaited comeback to tournament golf at Riviera Country Club on Thursday – his first appearance at that level since missing the cut at the Open last July.

It marked the 15-time major champion’s first non-Major event on the PGA Tour since October 2020.

Woods, the tournament host, began his round with a birdie on the par-5 first before he bogeyed the par-3 fourth. He chipped into a bunker on the 10th to drop another shot, then bogeyed the 12th also.

However, Woods reeled off three consecutive birdies from 16 – he sank a 23-foot putt on 17 to whip the large galleries into a frenzy – to finish in a tie for 27th, five shots off leaders Max Homa and Keith Mitchell.

"There's nothing like come game time, just the feeling of the butterflies and trying to calm all that stuff down," said Woods, who continues to deal with leg injuries sustained in a serious car crash in February 2021. "The adrenaline, the ball goes further.

"Even though it's cold out here, it was going even further than we expected. I had to dial all that back in. Misses, angles, wind - these are all things that have come second nature to a lot of these guys. I haven't really done this in a while.”

Woods, who was partnered with close friends Rory McIlroy and Justin Thomas, was playing only his 10th competitive round in the past two years.

"Ebbs and flows," Woods said. "It was nice that I had this unbelievable pairing, two great guys, two great friends. The people were obviously very supportive, they were just cheering all of us on, which is great. Just made this whole tournament better.

“I happened to actually hit some good shots finally and made a couple putts. Even though I had a little mishap at 10, I was able to fight back and get it going. It was a nice finish."

On turning around his round, Woods said: "Last year you saw it, I didn't finish off the rounds right. Those are things that I hadn't done and I hadn't played a whole lot, so I was chastising myself pretty hard coming off of 12 saying, ‘Hey, we've got to really get this thing going.

“’Let's just somehow figure it out and figure out how to piece together something around even par, 1-under par’. And just happened to get three [birdies] in a row coming in."

Asked how his leg was holding up – Woods almost lost his right leg in the single-car accident in 2021 – he said it was his ankle that was aching the most.

"I'm a little bit sore right now," Woods said. "We were laughing, joking in the scoring tent here, Rory's going to go down and hit some drivers. I said I'll be right there right behind.

"Yes, I need to go and we can do some treatment and get this thing ready for tomorrow.”

Updated: February 17, 2023, 5:57 AM